Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 28

Yesterday the UGA Sports Communication office released some pictures of spring football practice. But these were no ordinary photos. My boyfriend was there.

That's my man there on the right. Yeah.

I believe I may have mentioned before that I am truly madly deeply in love with Hines Ward. (Get it? That's a reference to a song that was popular when he and I were in college together. Clever doth be my middle name.) And unless you just don't pay attention to the NFL at all, you know Hines retired last week after 14 seasons with the Steelers. You may also know that I said it would be my dream come true if he came back to Georgia to coach. Well, hello!

Hines and my hometown boy Crowell, who I hope won't play like a showboat pansy this year.

I know, I know. I'm sure he was just visiting. He's a loyal Dawg, one of the reasons I love him. (I mean, how good does he look in that red and black?!) And I assume he'll probably wind up on TV in some sort of analyst capacity. But then I saw this on Twitter.

Wooo! Cheers to my potential future happiness! Maybe Hines can teach me his happy dance.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 27

Ahh, the bulleted list. I love a good list, and bullets make all lists look fancier. And I'm nothing if not a little bit fancy. Here we go, come with me, there's a world out there that we should see—oops, sorry. That song plays on repeat in my head about seven hours a day. To the list of things that make me do a happy dance!

  • Wings. Hooray for delicious, delicious hot wings (cooked extra crispy!), which I'm going to eat tonight with my BF Amanda and my brother Matt.
  • Glitter eyeliner. I wore it to work today. Good call.
  • Penguin water carbonator. Because I can't afford my San Pellegrino habit.
  • Wickles Pickles. I ate half of a jar on Sunday. No apologies.
  • Trader Joe's freeze-dried strawberries. I would eat a package every day if I lived close to a TJ's. My stockpile ran out last month.
  • Avocado. Even though I almost sliced off one of my fingers last night while trying to cut one for a salad. (My left ring finger, as someone pointed out. Is that a sign?)
  • Real ice cream, no frozen yogurt. Especially peanut butter-chocolate from Edgewood Creamery.
  • Banana boat Aloe After Sun Lotion. Most amazing scent ever.
  • Tall wedge sandals and a good pedicure.
  • Airplanes. I'll be boarding one Thursday evening. Can't wait. I love to fly.
  • Freshly ironed pillowcases. So worth it.
  • The ocean waves setting on my white noise machine.
  • Chevron stripes on anything.
  • New summer pajamas.
  • California. Time for a vacay.

Doesn't this look like me and my friends happy dancing? I'm in the pink.

Major crushing on this song too. It makes me dance in the car, and I think it will be my summer theme. Woo! Yay for fun!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 26

You know it, you love it. Right? Rocky is my favorite. My parents tell me I say that about every movie, every song, every thing. But this time I mean it. I don't trust people who don't love Rocky. My favorite (See? Ha.) of all is Rocky IV.

I went out with a guy who, at age 30+ had never seen a single Rocky movie. Not one. Now, I'm not saying that's the reason we didn't make it past date four but … stage whisper: That's the reason we didn't make it past date four.

If, for some unfathomable reason, you've never watched beyond Rocky II, then quit reading now. I'm about to lay a spoiler on you.

Last fall I met Amy and her kiddos at Railroad Park for Sunset Cinema. Featured picture: Rocky III. As usually happens when Amy and I get together, there was a little dancing ("old people dancing," Jacob, Amy's 15-year-old son, says), a lot of laughing, and a few tears. We'd both somehow blocked Mickey's death from memory. It makes me so sad, I can't even type about it without crying. The kids (Jacob plus four preteen girls) spent a great deal of time making fun of us and running back and forth to get food and hot chocolate (this was the one cold night we had all season) while Amy and I gave Rocky III the reverence it deserves, complete with fist pumps during "Eye of the Tiger." That's just American right there.

Now Rocky IV? Solid movie-making. There was nothing scarier in 1985 than Ivan the Russian boxer.

Rocky: I see three of him out there.
Paulie: Hit the one in the middle.
Duke: Right! Hit the one in the middle.

I should've stopped after this one, because Rocky V was terrible. Awful. Who wants to see a bankrupt and beleaguered hero? Which is why I was thrilled—we're talking jumping up and down—when Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky Balboa (VI) for the fans. I needed closure, Sty! I saw this one the day it hit theaters. I sleep a little better at night now. Long live the Italian Stallion!

Admit it: You're singing right now!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 25

It's Sunday Funday, folks! One of my favorite days of the week. I used to really dread Sunday evenings, and the dread of Sunday p.m. pretty much ruined the rest of the day too. I think it probably started in college, because if I was home visiting my family for the weekend, Sunday nights meant the end. And as much as I grew to love Athens, I was pretty hardcore homesick the first two years. (You read that right. Ask my parents about the phone bills. And about the trick my dad played on me to force me back every quarter.) Once I was out of school and living in Birmingham (hardcore homesick for probably close to four or five years—hey, sorry, Magic City. You took a while to grow on me.), Sunday nights signaled another drive away from my family, or if I'd spent the weekend here, that work was closing in. I don't know, it was just depressing.

And then I decided to do something about it. About four years ago, my church added a 6 p.m. service, and from there everything fell into place. Sundays meant I could sleep in. Drink coffee till 2 in the afternoon. Do laundry (which I love). Fold the clean clothes (which I don't love). Watch movies. Sundays became my day. And when the dreaded late-afternoon approached, I'd take a shower and go to church, which meant I was out of the house during the worst part of the day. Getting up off the couch is half the battle.

Sometimes, I'd meet friends for dinner (Val and I got into a real Sunday night P.F. Chang's pattern for awhile) or, better yet, go to the movies like I talked about here. Then I'd come home and watch Desperate Housewives on DVR. (See, the church attendance washes away the sin of the nighttime soap opera addiction. Ha. Kidding.)

This is still pretty much my MO on the Sundays I'm in Birmingham. I went to a late movie last night (go see The Hunger Games!), and I stayed up till around 2 a.m. playing iPad solitaire and watching Bridget Jones' Diary. (My life is riveting. See why I don't post these things on FB?) But that means I slept till after 10 this morning. I drank coffee till at least 1 p.m., and then I sorted laundry. I've talked on the phone with friends, cleaned my room, and just generally done what I wanted. I'm not fit for a public outing (hello, nursing home hair), but soon I'll jump in the shower and head out for a few hours. I'll probably swing by Target later for groceries. Then I'll come home and watch Desperate Housewives while I iron clothes for work tomorrow. Boring? Maybe. Depressing? No way. Cause I own Sunday.

(During the five months of 2009-2010 that I didn't have a job, Sunday nights, and all the nights, were awesome. It's amazing how much weight work can put on your psyche. I loved Sunday nights especially, because that meant Mondays were almost here. Mondays were my favorite days during layoff time, because the outside world went back to work or school, and the day was quiet and all mine. The best.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 24

The weather is getting warmer, summer's just around the corner, and I know y'all are wondering how Whitey McWhiterson gets her glow on in the hot months. Because my dermatologist is a friend and I'm concerned that she may read my blog, I'll give you the official answer: Tan Towels. Tan in a bottle. Spray tans. Anything but real sun.

But, truth time? I love the pool, and specifically, I love laying out at the pool. (Sorry, Shellie, but I did finally quit the tanning bed. Sorta. Mostly.) I can outlast most before jumping in the water to cool off. I need to be hot-hot-hot and practically dehydrated from sweat before I'll move off my chair. Flipping from stomach to back to stomach again is as athletic as I get.

I was born blonde and old pictures show me tan, but somewhere along the way my skin became practically translucent. I don't know what the problem is, but I don't like it. I envy naturally tan people. Fact: Everyone just looks better with tanned skin.

Two summers ago, Amy, Erin, and I spent a great deal of weekend time at different pools. We bounced around from apartments to the country club in Hoover to our favorite, Ross Bridge Resort. We made spa appointments in order to gain pool access for the day, and then we'd plant ourselves on lounge chairs with cold drinks and about 19 different magazines. Because we all three worked for magazines then, we'd mostly read a page and then critique it, read a page, critique. When we got tired of reading and critiquing, we'd talk. And talk and talk and talk. We solved much of the world's problems on Saturdays and Sundays that summer. It was the inaugural Pool Tour.

This is Jay, the pool bouncer at Ross Bridge. Jay takes care of things.

We also ate a lot of Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Patties. Have you had these? My friend Aleesha says they're not sold in Canada, which is a darn shame. NB Peanut Butter Patties are a Gibson beach and pool staple, and in June, I introduced them to my friends.

Last summer we spent most weekends at my pool, which we dubbed Melrose Place because that was the scene by late afternoon. We may or may not have taken Champagne and Styrofoam cups along with our magazines and sunscreen. Pool Tour 2011 didn't require as much touring, but it was totally awesome.

I'm moving at the end of May, so the Cityville pool isn't really an option for Pool Tour 2012. We're going to have to get creative. Call in some favors at Ross Bridge. Crash some poorly monitored apartment pools. Bum guest passes to the country club pool from Erin's parents again. And I definitely think we should find a way to sneak into a nice Hampton Inn pool. I mean, no crowds, right? We like a two-day pool weekend: all day Saturday and after church Sunday into the evening. Have you ever tried worrying about work and life and money and relationships with a cold drink in your hand, staring out at blue water from beneath an umbrella? Doesn't happen. And there's nothing better than going to bed with the faint scent of sunscreen still on your skin, tight and slightly burned from a day of fun in the sun with your friends.

Jamie tried to terrorize us at the Ross Bridge pool in 2010, when we celebrated mine and Erin's birthdays there with pool and spa time before Todd drove us to dinner and karaoke in a rented 15-passenger Econoline van. Yeah, that's a sentence I never thought I'd be typing either.

Don't we look relaxed? Birmingham roller derby, after we got ready with all the free Aveda products at the Ross Bridge spa following a marathon pool-and-daiquiri day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 23

It wasn't all that long ago that I learned scrambled dogs are not a Southern thing—they're a Columbus thing. I'm a BIG fan of hot dogs in general (no bratwurst, bleh), but when I talked about eating a chili dog in a dish with pickles, onions, cheese, and oyster crackers, people in Birmingham looked at me like I had four heads.

Y'all are missing out:

I've been ordering scrambled dogs all the way with vinegar-and-salt potato chips and a sweet tea at Dinglewood Pharmacy since I can remember. Lieutenant (birth certificate name) makes the best chili in the world, and I pretty much need a fix every time I go home.

Dinglewood Pharmacy

When my dad's paying after we eat, I usually slip about 15 banana Laffy Taffys in for dessert. You haven't lived till you've gotten sick off banana candy. Mmm.

This post started out making me really happy, but now I'm just super sad that I'm not in Columbus so I can go eat one of these tomorrow. If gas wasn't $14 a gallon I might make a day trip just for a scrambled dog.

I keep trying to tell you people: Georgia is AWESOME. Yay! Go Dawgs! (That has nothing to do with hot dogs, but it seemed an appropriate way to end this post.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Days 21 & 22

Oops! Sorry about the past two days. It's half Amy's fault, because she kept me out too late on our hot date last night, so I was too tired to post when I got home. And work was a little wild today, so wild that I came home and took a nap from 6:30 to nearly 9 (that's going to make sleeping tonight so FUN), and I just finished dinner at the odd hour of 9:30. All to say? This catch-up isn't going to be full of substance.

Without further transition: I love rainy nights. We're having one tonight, in fact. Thunderstorms are my absolute favorite, especially in the spring and summer. I like being inside on the couch with the blinds open while I listen to the storm outside. Thunderstorm sleep is the best you'll ever get.

If you think sunshine brings you happiness, then you haven't danced in the rain. —Unknown

You know what goes well with a rainy night? Bubble baths. I got super addicted to them my last two years of college, when I'd drag my boombox (heh) into the bathroom, light some candles, and listen to Delilah. I'd love to tell you I outgrew that, and while I now have an actual iTunes playlist for tub time, I still listen to the sappy songtress when I'm in the car. Alone. Because sometimes I cry, and I am an official No Sap Zone, so this cannot be witnessed by anyone else.

I'm a pro, so if you need candle, music, temperature, or wine tips, let me know. I will likely tell you to get some Zooey Deschanel on your tub tunes list, because I love her. You know she's in a band, right? She & Him.

I loved her in the unconventional 500 Days of Summer. Now I watch her in "New Girl." I hope you're watching too.

I especially love this episode because Dermot Mulroney guest stars, and he's hot. My Best Friend's Wedding, anyone? Yum.

One of the best lines from this episode comes from Zooey (Jess), when discussing the type of guys she dates: You know me. I'm only attracted to guys who are afraid of success and think someone famous stole their idea. I like an underdog.

I think I'll watch an episode on the DVR, take a bubble bath, and then go to sleep. See you on Day 23.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 20

I'm thisclose to falling a full day behind on this challenge and I'm also enforcing a strict 11:30 bedtime on myself tonight because nothing makes me happier than sleep. Nothing makes me grumpier than lack of sleep, and I've done a bad job of falling back into my college hours the past four nights. Going to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. doesn't treat me as well as it once did. So, please, enjoy today's grid of happiness while I get some beauty rest.

1. Magazines. Stacks and stacks of magazines. 2. Coffee in the mornings, before I feel like Little Miss Chatterbox. 3. My sweet nephew Harrison. 4. Jesus Calling. Don't start my mornings without this devotional. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and iPad. 5. Flowers in my bathroom. 6. Salted Caramel yogurt from Pinkberry (says the girl who prefers real ice cream, this stuff is amazing). 7. Giveaways at work. 8. San Pellegrino. 9. Football with my dad. 10. Conundrum White Blend. 11. Kennedy, my favorite little Bulldog in the world. 12. Vision boards and photo booth pics hanging behind my bedroom door. 13. Yes, that's a UGA sock monkey. I sleep with him every night. 14. Smiley face cookies from Savage's. 15. Bookstores. 16. This text from my dad.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 19

I'm not known for my patience, so once I cut my long hair between my sophomore and junior years of college, it never really stood a chance of growing out long again. Until.

Until May 2008. I suddenly, almost overnight, found myself facing a divorce, and I'll be honest: It felt like my entire world was spinning upside-down and out of control. Every decision was being made for me, and what I wanted didn't matter.

I desperately needed something, anything, that I could control. Standing in the kitchen of my soon-to-be-vacant apartment later that month, as I canceled a hair appointment I just couldn't muster the energy to sit through, I decided that I wasn't going to cut my hair again until … when? Until it hit my shoulders? Until my divorce was final? Until I felt in control of my own life again? I didn't know. Maybe I thought long hair would be my disguise, like it would somehow transform me into someone else. I clung to my hair as though it was my life support. I was determined. Defiant.

My dear friend Sara told me once that her first husband preferred her hair short. She had shown me an old photo, the square kind with rounded edges, faded yellow. I could still make out the fiery red hair of the woman smiling back at me from beneath a pixie cut. That Sara. My Sara had fiery red hair, too, but it cascaded down her back. She tossed it over each shoulder as she walked. It always seemed to float midair behind her. If that unmistakable smile was her entrance, then that hair was her dramatic exit. She told me that, after her divorce, she had refused to cut her hair. She needed control over something too. She was determined. Defiant.

Each time I left the salon without chopping off my split ends plus four inches was another victory on my quest for control. Every half-inch of growth felt like another step toward happiness. I told Sara because I knew she would understand.

By the time my divorce was final, 14 months later, my chin-length hair was nearly to my shoulders and I felt an odd sense of accomplishment. But still, I didn't—couldn't—cut it. Ponytails. Messy buns. A side braid. Sleek and straight. Pinned back on one side. Loose curls around my face. Each new style represented possibility, and I was afraid that cutting off my hair would be cutting off those possibilities.

I know it sounds silly and theatrical and maybe even slightly schizophrenic. I realized I was—I am—emotionally attached to my hair. I worried to friends that maybe I was hanging on to something unhealthy, that my hair was a metaphor for hurt and anger and bitterness. Maybe I should cut it all off just to prove that I could. They laughed and told me that was ridiculous. Amy understood. A hair cut gone wrong had left her long locks far shorter than she wanted, the bob choppy from new layers. It would be close to two years before she could face another trim. Her hair was her identity too. Then, last April, Sara passed away and suddenly growing out my hair wasn't about my former life or my divorce or anything sad. It was a connection to my wonderful, beautiful friend, something only we shared. Cutting it was out of the question.

When I look in the mirror, I'm reminded that every inch represents where I was then, and who I am today. Oh, the cliche. But I like this girl. I'm proud of her. It sounds so very dramatic. And, at the time, for me, it was. But in the vast and messy landscape of life? This was just my thing, and I'm okay. My wounds have healed to scars. They've made me a better friend, more tenderhearted and understanding. Less judgmental and more empathetic. I can't control life, I never could. Long hair isn't a disguise for my sadness or hurt or anger; it's my blonde badge of courage, of hope and determination and happiness.

The word "happiness" would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. —Carl Jung

(I wrote this post while listening to "Fly Over States" by Jason Aldean on repeat for close to an hour. [I really like to beat a good thing into the ground.] If someone finds me tickets to either of his Atlanta shows or the one in Birmingham, I'll be the happiest girl in the whole USA. It would be the perfect ending to this happiness adventure.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 18

This past weekend in Birmingham was incredibly warm and springlike, giving a taste of the hot, humid summer that's hurtling toward us. I'm not really a season hater—I really, really like cold weather and the near-perfect days of spring and fall are wonderful, but I like the summer months too. The beach, flip-flops and sundresses, my birthday, cold movie theaters.

Going to the movies in the summertime is the best. The theater is such a cool relief from the blazing heat outside, and I love suspension of disbelief. The perfect vacation from my mind. None of you are inside my head, but it's pretty exhausting up in here. Gateway to Narnia? Flying monkeys? Fairytale endings? Sign me up.

I'm not super picky about which films I see. I love smart, artsy films—Le Divorce, Once, Midnight in Paris. I enjoy chick flicks (I always cry), comedies, actions, dramas, trilogies (except that Twilight nonsense). I'm a big fan of thrillers too—just no scary/horror movies in the theater.

Tangent: I made that mistake in 1996, my freshman year of college. I went with a group of friends to see Scream at the Georgia Theatre, a pretty famous bar/music venue housed in an old cinema in downtown Athens. After the bathroom scene in the high school, I don't think my roommate April and I ever went to the bathroom alone in our dorm again. I'm an easy scare, so if I'm going to watch something terrifying, I'd like to do it at home, not alone, with all the lights on, the TV on mute, and a blanket over my head.

(Confession: My roommate isn't home tonight, and I couldn't bring myself to watch this clip. I actually closed my eyes while I was copying the embed code.)

Sunday night at the movies is pretty great, and there isn't usually a big crowd. I drive right past the theater on my home from 6 p.m. church and a lot of times, I wind up eating dinner with friends somewhere at the Summit. Sometimes we'll go to the movies afterward. Sure, it's a late show, but Monday's coming either way. Wheeee, look at me! Living on the edge, baby. Footloose and fancy-free.

Stimulus Tuesday at Carmike Cinemas is marketing genius. Even though I'm still paying roughly $1,475 for a ticket, small drinks and popcorn are just $1 each—that's practically free! I know we have fancy Rave Theaters in Birmingham, but I'm really a Carmike girl. It's a Columbus-based company, and Carmike is all we have back home. Sentimental about a theater chain? You didn't think I could get any weirder, did you?

(I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that I big puffy heart love previews and the Fandango paper-bag puppets.)

There's a Carmike dollar theater in Hoover, and the good movies will absolutely sell out on Tuesday nights. Six dollars for a solid date night excites a lot of folks around here. It's like I told Amy one night last year: Dating in the summer is sweaty. Movie theaters are cold. Summer movie dates equal awesome.

Speaking of summer movie dates, who's free July 20? If you pick up this trailer about 1:20 in, you'll see at once why I'm particularly excited about The Dark Knight Rises.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 17

Happy St. Patty's Day to you all! I hope you're wearing green today so you don't get pinched—or, if you're into that sort of thing, I hope you wore red instead. I'm here to entertain, not judge.

I wore a green necklace today, which reminded me of the time I wore the same necklace to 8e's in Athens, which made me think about 80s music, which made me think about my 80s music-loving friends, which made me think about Tiffany and Chico moving to Norfolk, which made me think about Jamie being up there this weekend, which made me sad, which really derailed the happiness train I was on. So instead of going out tonight, I've spent the better part of the evening in a green t-shirt drinking San Pellegrino out of a green bottle looking up 80s music on YouTube in order to get my groove back.

(Note: I'm still pretty sad about The Norfolk Move, especially because my friends have been group texting me all day and night with pictures of themselves and empty chairs where I should be sitting every place they go and videos of them singing and dancing to Billy Joel.)

Hey, sorry, about the detour to Buzzkillington. Happiness train, now boarding.

There's seriously nothing that can put me in a good mood faster than some excellent 80s tunes. I know I've already blogged about how much I love music, but this deserves a post of its own. I can't sit still when I hear a song from that decade, doesn't matter where I am. I imagine my moves look like this:

But it's probably something more like this:

That's okay, though, because I'm still having more fun than you.

One of my favorite places to bust a move is 8e's, an 80s music bar/dance club in Athens. When I was in school, it was Uptown Lounge, where sometimes my friends and I joined the other girls dancing on top of the bar during last song of the night I never went during college. My first trip to 8e's was after an emotionally distressing football loss to Kentucky in 2009.

We dried our tears after house favorite (and probably my all-time) "Your Love" by The Outfield played.

We've returned several times since, the last visit being my birthday weekend in 2011.

That is the face of a happy, happy girl.

Remember this contest? Of course an 80s song won.

When RK was helping me train for my first 5K in December, how did he motivate me? 80s music videos. (Chariots of Fire, FTW!)

Even working out is fun if there's 80s music! (And purple leotards and pantyhose and high-tops.)

During my big clean-out and move last May, I discovered about 10 CDs full of 80s music an ex-boyfriend had apparently burned for me but never mentioned. That right there? Phenomenal parting gift. 80s music makes everything better! Listen for yourself. The fruit of my YouTube St. Patrick's Day:

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 16

Ahhh, imaginary boyfriends. Is there anything better? No, no, this isn't another Hines Ward post—he actually is my boyfriend, duh.

Hello, welcome to inside my head. It's so wonderful here. I'm happy and healthy and I eat peanut butter-and-chocolate ice cream every day and stay skinny and Georgia wins national championships. Join me, won't you? Can I get you something to drink, Kool-Aid maybe?

I have a few imaginary Hollywood boyfriends in my queue—Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Adam Levine.

And Ryan Reynolds. Mercy.

Mmmm. You're welcome.

When I got home last night, roommate Val was already in her room, but a short while later I got a text alerting me that Ryan Reynolds was on Letterman, so I turned it on. Val and I were texting back and forth about how cute and funny and perfect Ryan is, but then? He started talking about pie. PIE! Hello? *I* just blogged about pie!

Then she sent me this photo, wishing me "Sweet dreams. Love, Ryan."

I do love my enablers friends.

Playing pretend is good for you, did you know that? I asked my pretend doctor, and he confirmed my suspicions. Living vicariously through your own psychotic dreamy thoughts unleashes happiness. Because in your pretend world, everything is perfect. Sit down. Put up your feet. Stay awhile.

Actually, real experts say that pretend play increases social, emotional, language, and thinking skills. I'm not making that up; read it here! (Yes I know this is about child's play, but aren't we all young at heart?)

"When your child engages in pretend (or dramatic) play, he is actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life."

Confirmed. I know my emotions are in a good, good place when I'm pretending to be Mrs. Ryan Reynolds.

Just because.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 15

I'm about to blow your minds.

I love sports. BOOM! Secret's out. I especially adore football. Do any of you happen to know who my favorite teams are?

Where's all that laughter coming from? Fine. I suppose this is the worst-kept happiness secret in the universe.

I think if you've known me for longer than three and a half minutes, you know I'm a HUGE Georgia Bulldog. Football reigns supreme in my life in the fall, and pretty much any other time of the year that I can talk about it (like later in the month, in another blog post). August through November are typically a blur in my world—I spend the weekdays sandwiched between football weekends doing laundry and repacking my bags. I have a dedicated stadium bag (yes, it's monogrammed) full of handtowels (wet seats!), face tattoos, wipes, pom-poms, tissues (sometimes I cry when we lose), hand sanitizer, mints, extra sunglasses, etc. This year I had football season pajamas and toiletries, so I never had to unpack those things after weekends away. I know I'm crazy awesome. Football is on my mind again because season ticket orders are due by the end of the month.

Pretty soon it'll be summertime, and then the countdown begins. I can't wait. And to keep me occupied between now and then, there's …


I'm a dedicated Braves fan, no matter how many times they take me high in the sky and then clip my wings till I smash back down to earth. Remember 1991, the worst to first season? What a thrill to be a Braves fan back then, after years of expected disappointment and free tickets if you made the honor roll at school. No one else wanted 'em, may as well give them away. I didn't care when I was little though; it was just fun to be in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, long before Turner Field was constructed. I became a psycho passionate Mark Lemke fan. (Is anyone else noticing a theme with me and sports figures?) I clipped every newspaper article with his name in it, bought one of his used game hats for $20 at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, and stole my brother's autographed baseball. I'm slightly ashamed of myself for that, but not enough to give it back.

The old stadium, set up for Falcons football

And we had Dale Murphy!

Is there really anything better than dozing off and on during a relatively calm Sunday afternoon baseball game? Yes. Being there, eating hot dogs and getting a sunburn.

Naps are best saved for a lazy afternoon of golf, which I protested when I was younger but now sort of love. Team Phil!

Big fan.

Probably the only thing better than a Sunday afternoon of golf is a full Saturday of college football followed by a full Sunday of NFL games. Seriously, what's going to happen if I meet a guy who, you know, doesn't like sports? Is that a thing?

Know who else what other team I love?

SURPRISE! Hines Ward and the Steelers. I grew up rooting for the Falcons—and deep down I guess I still do—but it was all over for me the day Pittsburgh drafted my beloved. Terrible Towels for everyone. Here we go Steelers, here we go! I can only cross my fingers and pray for the Falcons to pick up Hines Ward now. That would make it a lot easier for me to get to games.

Is anyone keeping count on the happiness to Hines Ward posts?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 14

Happy 3.14 Day! In a real originality twist, I'm going to write all about my love for PIE! (I always say PIE! in all caps with an exclamation point behind it because, well, it's PIE! Try it.)

True confession: I'll take a piece of PIE! (Is that getting annoying? I'll stop. Just promise to yell the word in your head when you read it, okay?) over a slice of cake any day. Really.

Pie makes me so happy. I'm smiling right now.

Does it look like this dude's eating pie? Not really. But when I searched "pie" on GIFSoup, this came up. And it makes me laugh.

I think my first pie memory is a big, delicious slice of goober pie from Country's Barbecue in Columbus. Do y'all know what goober pie is, or is that just a C-town thing like scrambled dogs and prisoners-as-trash-collectors? Goober pie is peanut butter pie. The crust is made of crushed peanuts and maybe a lot of butter. And it's amazing. Life-changing, actually.

So is the chocolate chess pie (with pecans!) from Country's. Probably my most favorite kind of pie in the world.

Except for chocolate chip pie. Also kind of my favorite. My aunt gave me her recipe a few years ago, but it really tastes better when she makes it. I also like to call this Second Date Pie because once, after a semi-blind date with a guy I sort of met in the bank drive-thru, I fed said date a piece of this. (I mean, not literally fed him a piece of this. That would be 17 kinds of inappropriate.) Anyway, I got another date, and I credit the pie.

Oooh, I also love blueberry pie from Chez Lulu. Mmmm, with ice cream. It'll turn your teeth purple, but it's worth every bite. I split my first piece ever with Sara P., just before we … well, we did something retaliatory and funny and totally girl-bonding and not exactly illegal, but my attorney told me not to talk about it on the Internet. Sorry. But yay! Blueberry pie.

Lemon pie! I love lemon pie, too, the tart, creamy kind. And Leah's rhubarb pie. Turtle pie. Pumpkin pie. Coconut cream pie. Key lime pie. Tomato pie. Pie is so good. I bet Hines Ward totally loves pie.

Just be careful out there. Pie can be dangerous.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 13


The whole wide state makes me happy. I'm like the unofficial ambassador, elected by me to extoll the superiority of my home state. Most people probably feel some sort of affection and responsibility to the state from which they're from. That's not incredibly unusual. But, like pretty much everything else in my life, I've been told I take this to the extreme. Ha! What? Me? Ahem.

I have good, solid memories of growing up in Georgia. Swimming in the "ocean" at Callaway Gardens (less than 30 minutes from home!). Vacations on Jekyll Island. Weekend shopping trips and Braves games in Atlanta. Country time down in Albany (pronounced All-BIN-ny). I never imagined I'd end up in Alabama—no offense, natives. It's just … not Georgia. I've lived in Birmingham roughly half the amount of time (a little more, actually) that I lived in Georgia, but I couldn't tell you much about Alabama's history. I don't pull for either of the football teams here (duh). I haven't a clue about the state bird, flower, or tree. But I can tell you from memory what the Peach State's (or Empire State of the South, if you will) are: Brown Thrasher (bird), Cherokee Rose (flower), Live Oak (tree), and—for the bonus round—European honey bee (insect). Plus we have the Okefenokee Swamp, and that's just fun to say.

We bring you Vidalia onions, peanuts, pecans, and peaches. (Don't even TRY to talk to me about Chilton County.)

We have mountains, plains, and coast. The Masters. Coke. (Although, shudder.) The world's largest infantry training center at Ft. Benning, adjacent to my hometown of Columbus. Hines Ward. (Hi again, #19!) Ludacris. Chick-fil-A and Zaxby's.

And we house the city of Athens, home of the first state-chartered university—the single greatest thing we produced—THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA.

This will not be the last you hear of UGA during March. But you already knew that.

Anyway, I miss my state and, while I have no plans to move back to C-town, I do sometimes think I'd like to end up in Atlanta. It feels like home, it's close to Athens (hell-O, football season), and I pretty much adore the ATL. Don't hate.

And, as unofficial ambassador, I'd like to say again, I really need one of these. Someone get on this, please.

I'll leave you with these parting words. Ninety percent of you have certainly seen me dancing and singing this song at the top of my lungs.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Day 12

I love fireworks. I especially love them at the beach. I can't explain it, there's just something magical about colored fire exploding into the night sky.

Know what I think would be awesome? Fireworks at a wedding reception. But every time I mention it, Rickey's head looks like it's going to fall off.

PS: Let's not talk about how I back-dated this post, okay?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Happiness Challenge: Days 10 & 11

Oops. I've had such a busy, wonderful weekend, I'm coming in just under the wire for Sunday and I missed yesterday altogether. I have a twofer today, and this is going to be quick. Come back tomorrow for a real happiness post. I'd love to say that I have something productive to achieve before bedtime tonight, but really I need to practice my sock bun and finish watching Desperate Housewives.

So, here you have it. One of my very favorite things in the whole world ever. I love it. Eat there probably four or five times a week.

Which brings us to this other love:

I realize this 31 Days of Happiness thing is turning into the Stephanie Freak Show (thanks, Bowlby!), but I don't think I can let March pass by without acknowledging my pickle problem. If I don't order a sandwich with extra pickles at Chick-fil-A, then I get nuggets and a pickle pack. Then I dip them in ketchup and eat them in about four seconds flat.

And I also drink pickle juice. Like, one time from a wine glass at Amy's. I was trying to pass it off as Chardonnay, but I think the cucumber seeds gave me away.

Anyway, thanks for hanging in with me. Your reward is this beautiful gif of Ryan Gosling … just being Ryan Gosling. Mmmm. Bonus! This makes three.